Seaweed Foraging – Spain April 2014 – from Eileen Toomey
As part of my contribution to the Future of Food project. I committed to bring knowledge of seaweed foraging and the nutritional benefits of this superfood to the participants. I am very fortunate to live on the stunning West Coast of Ireland where seaweed abounds in both species and quantity and I hope to be able to share this new found knowledge with the rest of the partners.
When visiting the coast to forage one can feel a sense of magic take over. Looking from afar your view is of the waves lapping the shore but when you get up close as a forager you see the amazing world of creatures feeding from and existing within the seaweeds in this beautiful exotic ecosystem.
The health benefits of seaweeds are tenfold. They are packed with nutrients, vitamins and trace elements, many of which are difficult to get from other sources, such as Iodine. They are thought to be high in nutrients and low in calories, good for heart health, good to balance hormone levels, good as a heavy-duty detoxer and a good all around tonic.
On our trip to the coast at Gijon, Asturias with our hosts Sebastian and Lidia we all anticipated finding many species, some similar to Ireland, but we were very unfortunate to only find four species in very small quantities and therefore our bounty was rather small. However what we brought home was a small amount of
Fucus vesiculous, Sea Lettuce Ulva lactuca, Carrigeen Moss Chondrus crispus and what we think was a species called Pelvetia. These were made the most of in our evening meal the following day after the forest forage. Chef’s Sam and Andres made a delicious Lavar Bread with a selection of the seaweeds and a mixed seaweed salad so we felt that we had made a connection from the coast to our plates. We also had delicious Kelp crisps made in the kitchen from dried Kelp that I had brought from home which I had foraged a few days before leaving for Spain.
I suppose the main message we took from our foraging trip is that seaweed is an accessible, versatile food that has a place in almost every diet!